Chapter 13: Valen and Vermin

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Session Number: 23
Date: Sunday 30 August 2009
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Emily Ftr2/Rog2 (Tammi) (kills: 1 Murder)
Enok Rgr4 (Alain) (kills: 1 Murder)
Krag Clr4 (Fergus) (kills: 1 Murder)
Rowaine Pal4 (Craig) (kills: 1 Murder)
Vor-wrek Mnk4 (Densial) (kills: The real Valen)

XP Awarded: enough for 5th level

Round 5. Rowaine chops at one of the robed figures that flanks her and strikes a killing blow. The remainder of the Murder retaliate ineffectually.

Densial rolls 1, 1, 5, 5 and something else that doesn't hit. He changes dice.

Krag and Vor-wrek battle against the tide of the crowd, elbowing their way into an opening where they see their friends engaged with a large number of slight, dark-robed figures. Krag charges in and lands a heavy blow on one attacking Emily. Vor-wrek targets the nearest combatant and clobbers him about the kidneys and neck, not knowing that he is Emily's friend! Rowaine hits her target a second time but the little guy is made of tough stuff.

Rowaine hits a third time. Shortly after Enok skewers the badly hurt figure with both long sword and dagger (two criticals). Vor-wrek uses Flurry of Blows on Emily's friend and knocks him senseless.

Rowaine is hit and goes down. Krag kills one. Someone kills yet another and the remaining two flee. Enok tags one with an arrow but it is not enough to stop his escape.

Krag heals Rowaine. "Where are they?" she asks. "Don't worry Ro, they're all gone. Dead, or running away," Krag answers. "We have to get back to the temple," Rowaine says. "They must know that's where we were headed… Anassia is not safe there!"

Vor-wrek immediately runs off in the direction of the temple. Krag magically stabilises Emily's friend's condition. Rowaine Lays Hands on the treacherous Valen to halt his demise but keeps him unconscious. She hoists his body over her shoulder and makes for the temple with all the speed she can muster. Emily picks up the body of her friend and follows.

"What's THAT?" Krag says to Emily, indicating the elongated bat-like creature that has returned to her, wrapping its stinger tail around her neck. "I don't know - but it's OK!" she hastily adds as Krag raises his mace. "Is it hurting you?" asks Krag, noticing the many scratches about Emily's neck and face. "No, s'fine," she says. Rowaine notices the exchange and the creature. She uses her paladin-given ability to Detect Evil but senses nothing malign about the creature, despite its fearsome appearance. Krag casts Protection from Evil on Emily. Neither Emily nor her little creature seem to notice.

The party reach the temple. Krag leads Emily to the infirmary where she lays her friend. Rowaine deposits Valen's body inside and fetches Anassia. Vor-wrek translates…

"Anassia, does the name 'Valen' mean anything to you?"

"Yes… Yes! I know Valen."

"Can you describe him?"

"Yes. He is tall… Not gigantic like you, just tall… He has no hair on his head… And he has lovely eyes."

The description could not be further from the man that called himself Valen, but Rowaine needs to be sure…

"I need your help, Anassia, and unfortunately it's not going to be pleasant."

"OK…" Anassia steels herself and is led to the body that Rowaine brought in.

"Is this Valen?"

"No…"

Rowaine gathers Krag and Enok. "We need to move. Anassia is not safe here. Gather your things."

"But Ro, you're hurt," Krag says. "We're hurt. We need to rest up." The big half-orc prays for the wounded pair and Moradin's favour eases the worst of their pain. At that moment Emily reappears, her weird little creature atop her shoulder.

"Emily, do you think your little friend might let me hold him?"

"I suppose so…"

"Does it have a name?"

"Well, it blinks a lot when it looks at me, so I kinda call it 'Blink'."

Rowaine gently talks to the creature then awkwardly reaches out for it. The creature's claws grip Emily even tighter. "What do you feed it?" asks Rowaine. "It eats raw meat."

pseudodragon.jpg

Rowaine ventures to the kitchen, returning with some raw meat scraps. She tries to coax the beast onto her lap, but even the allure of food will not shift it from Emily. The lines of blood trickling down her legs bear witness to that. Satisfied that she cannot sense any evil intent, and that the creature seems unaffected by Krag's spell, Rowaine shrugs her shoulders and changes the subject. "How is your friend?"

"He's still unconscious, but they say he's OK."

Rowaine looks at Emily, frowning. "Emily… How do you know him?"

"Oh… Our paths just sort of … crossed…" Emily says.

"What is his name?"

"Valen."

Tall (for their race), check. Bald, check. Nice eyes, check.

Rowaine grabs Anassia and races to the infirmary. "Anassia, is this Valen?"

"Yes!" translates Vor-wrek. Anassia clambers atop the bed and hugs the man. She looks worried when he does not move.

"Just a minute, lovie," Rowaine says. "Give me some room…"

Rowaine pours the last of her healing into the beaten man. He awakens, sees Anassia and reaches for her, smiling. Anassia seems unperturbed. The man reaches his arm around the girl's neck and pulls out the necklace. He says something, which Vor-wrek translates - "Ah, you're safe." He visibly relaxes.

Rowaine speaks. "Can you understand our language?"

"Yes," Valen replies in accented Common.

Rowaine then explains the circumstances by which the party became charged with Anassia's protection. She prompts Valen for his side of the story. Krag feels that Valen is being 'cagey' - but Rowaine is as well. Encouraged by Anassia's familiarity around the man, Rowaine talks about Anassia's true state. She also says that her group have been successful in removing the curse on the necklace, hopefully halting the decay it causes. Vor-wrek confirms this, also adding that Anassia's memories appear to be returning.

Valen becomes more candid. He reveals that the necklace was originally his, and that he used it to preserve the real Anassia's soul when she became mortally wounded in the ship attack.

"Thank you for all you have done, I am in your debt. It is good to have her back."

"So… Where from here?" Rowaine asks. "We have found where Prince Arthur is - that's Anassia' fiance - and we were headed there next. There is the small matter of the Murder…"

"That seems like an acceptable destination. My thanks again… But I will look after Anassia now. I will need to rest for a short time before the next step of our journey."

"Ah, hang on a minute," Rowaine says, startled. "What do you plan to do with Anassia - the construct, and the real person?"

"I will be … displacing Anassia's soul into another more suitable container. The construct? I will leave her over to you, after modifying her memories a little. Anassia? I will … have to see what I can do once I get there."

"Can we all go together?"

"I am travelling … magically. I can only travel alone. That is why I must transfer Anassia's soul out of the necklace."

Rowaine's jaw sets. "With the utmost respect for your position, we too have been charged with the girl's protection… And I cannot simply hand her over to someone who claims to be her long-lost guardian! We have been deceived once already."

"Just so I am being clear," Valen says in a diplomatic but unambiguous manner. "I am not asking you. I am telling you." It is as if the man was simply stating a law of nature.

"Then it seems as if we were at an impasse," Rowaine says grittily.

Enok interrupts. "Rowaine, what if we could prove Valen's sincerity? With Krag's Zone of Truth?"

"That might not be a bad idea…" Rowaine ponders.

"What is this that you speak of? I will not be enspelled," Valen says calmly.

Vor-wrek explains the nature of the spell. Valen tentatively accepts the proposition, his wariness somewhat mitigated when Krag explains that the spell is cast upon an area, rather than a person. Valen warns the party that he will be on his guard.

"Tomorrow, then," Rowaine says.

Emily mentions that she needs to return to the inn to collect her belongings. All the party but Vor-wrek travel with her. There is no sign of the Murder. Emily feels much more comfortable with her armour - it tends to protect against her little friend's nasty claws.

Evening gives way to night, and then morning. Krag sets up the Zone of Truth. Valen answers all the group's questions and satisfies them that he can indeed be trusted.

Krag then drags the unconscious pretender into the Zone. Mindful that this individual may have mind-affecting powers, both He and Rowaine cast Protection from Evil upon themselves. Krag then wakens the assassin with Moradin's healing. Despite being told of the extreme gravity of his situation, the assassin remains aloof and uncooperative. The party alert the city authorities, informing them of the nature of their captive, and he is taken away.

Valen then beckons Anassia over to him and holds her necklace. In his other hand is a large red gemstone. He closes his eyes and the room seems to darken for a moment. "It is done," he says. "Anassia's soul is no longer in the necklace." He then gently holds the construct's head and concentrates. "I have modified her memories. She no longer knows of her fiance. It is the best I can do."

With that, Valen prepares to leave.

"Can we visit you both? At the holding where Prince Arthur lives?" Rowaine asks.

"I may not be there… But yes, I cannot see why not."

The group say their goodbyes to Valen, and he fades from view.

The group think about their next move, settling on a plan to return to Kharag monastery with the teenagers. Enok suggests that they contact their "small friends" (the halflings) and see if they can arrange a stealthy exit from the city. Sheila agrees and after the group collect their belongings, two halflings guide them through the city's ancient sewer system where they exit far to the west of the city walls. Rowaine tosses the halflings a gem for their assistance.

The journey home begins. The young boy is intrigued by Vor-wrek's unarmed combat style and learns much from him. The girl spends most of her time with Rowaine, shyly talking to her. At last, the group see the familiar sights of the monastery's grounds beside the river and they are joyfully welcomed inside. The fortifications are well under way. Teachers settle the teenagers into their new homes.

The next day Sir Veketh calls the group together for a little chat. He mentions the group's exploits, and then looks at them all.

"You're not really students any more, are you? You will always be welcome here, but it is time to find your place in the world. My teachers and I will be available to you, to discuss your options, over the next few days. There is a human township not far from here; I might suggest that you begin your next 'great adventure' there. I am very proud of you all."

Vor-wrek asks whether there might be a gardening position available at the monastery.

Densial wants to "pursue other character options"

Here endeth "Ellie", the saga about the ever-lovely and intriguing Anassia. Well done, Densial! Fergus next takes on the DM's mantle…

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